Monday, 20 April 2015

MULL HOLIDAY 1: LIFE'S LITTLE REWARDS

We have now returned from a week's holiday on Mull, an island off the west coast of Scotland.  It is a 2 hour car journey from Glasogw to Oban where there is a daily ferry service to the island. 
It was Ma, Pa 'n all the wains, meaning:  John and Mairi, Ishie (8), Alastair (7), Harriet (nearly 2) and baby Ellie (3 months) and Iain and I.  We were a right circus ... ooops ... I mean 'caravan' as every day we explored the single track roads in our 2 cars.

John booked a 3 bedroom house in the country "on a small holding" located on the road from Tobermory to Dervaig.   [www.accommodation-tobermory.co.uk/index.php/garden-cottage/]

Every morning (which, thankfully, were fair) Harriet and I spent time together outside, i.e.  picture a fiesty nearly-two year old who has recently learned to say "No" who loves puddles, 'chuckies' (stones) and climbing up anything remotely vertical.
 .
Hold on.....

What have we here?!!!  Chickens!  And better yet a Hen-house!










And for Grandma ....








Friday, 10 April 2015

ANOTHER APPLE FOR MY BOX

I headed off to Braehead shopping mall this morning with the intention of buying a replacement electric toothbrush at a larger branch of Boots. What I did not know was that the stores do not open until 10 am.  At least most of them don't....

By pure chance the Apple Store in the mall was open and I sauntered in ... and found that today is the day the new iWatch arrived in the shops for sale.  

I am a big Apple user, i.e. jet-engine of a Apple computer with large screen for desk-top publishing work, an iPhone and iPad.  I was aware of the new techy watch coming out and was interested because I have an ordinary wrist-watch which never sits squarely.  I like a leather strap but all straps are basically the same. On my wrist the face and the buckle always slide around to sit 90 degrees to what they should.

So I bought one or at least I ordered one.  The lad wanted to demonstrate all the 'techy' features to me; I spent all my time fussing about the strap!


I am dreadful that way!  Whenever I go to buy a car (and I do buy my own) I am not interested in the battery or dip stick, just let me concentrate on getting a really good radio and CD player (or rather as it used to be: a 'tape cassette'.)

But, of course, I can now have fun bragging to my younger friends that I have ordered a watch.  It didn't take long to get the desired reaction:  "No. 1 Son is impressed.  Says it is a clever bit of kit."  Quite so!





Sunday, 5 April 2015

THE TOP HALF OF THE GLASS

It has been a love day today, Easter Sunday. The sun shone and so we got out the garden furniture from storage.


Alastair is helping Grandpa with the battery operated drill.  Harriet is 'supervising'!


The 2 photos below show the back sit-ootery this afternoon. The tulips in the black plastic pots are going to bloom soon.  I then place them around the other side of the house facing the street.  I have already done that with the daffs - a great show of colour on the north side.


The garden (facing due south).  All the bulbs are out; the leaves are swept and the herbs are just starting to show some greenery.  The washing line has the boat cushion cover draped over it... trying to get rid of the tangy smell of diesel.


Mairi's brought a bottle of wine yesterday which is getting tasted by me.  I'm not going anywhere today to it is time to put my feet up. The last of yesterday's Fairy Cakes are on the cake stand.


In the background, sitting on the step are Ishbel (8) and Harriet (1.5).


Here's another shot taken with my iPhone using the facility where you zoom in by swiping 2 fingers across the screen.  It's a bit grainy but I like it!



Harriet has discovered the woodshed which is now empty. It makes a great 'Wendy House'!


I recall my father saying, with reagard to filling up the car gas/petrol tank, "It's just as easy to keep the top half full as the bottom."

Quite so....!



Later ...  here is a photo taken by John.  I love wee Ellie's expression!  I think we have another Cheeky Monkey here!





Friday, 3 April 2015

VARIATION ON A THEME OF CARROT CAKE

'Stina (short for Christina) gave me the recipe for Mairi's birthday cake that I made last week.  Several people have asked for the recipe which is below.

On looking through Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess cookbook I found a very similar recipe:  'Flora's Famous Courgette Cake' (page 18-19).
Stina's recipe is a pleasant variation on carrot cake and just as easy to make.

COURGETTE AND LIME CAKE



135 ml sunflower oil
200 g caster sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
300g self raising flour 
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
335 finely grated courgettes
Grated zest of 2 limes

Line base and sides of 8 inch loose bottom round cake tin.
Beat oil, sugar, eggs for 2-3 minutes til light and fluffy. 
Stir in self-raising flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Then add courgettes and zest of limes.

Bake 40-50 minutes in 160 degree C oven.

Topping:
200 g full fat cream cheese
100 g icing sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lime 

Mix altogether and spread over cake and middle if desired.

Stina's source: Glasgow Herald March 2014 as eaten in the Three Sisters Coffee Shop in Killearn.
THE SAGA OF THE CAKE


I made a test batch first and shared it with some of the neighbours.  



The verdict from my 3 year old neighbour, Ewan, "Don't like the green bits!"


I made 'the real thing' last weekend and put the 2 layers in a poly bag out of harm's way in the garden room adjacent to the kitchen where it is cool.  When I went to retrieve the bag I found a brown paper bag with a selection of Mellis's lovely cheeses had been placed on top ... by Mr Nobody, of course...!


If I ever write a cookery book it is going to be called I Try Not to Weep!  What is it they say?... "Keep Calm and Carry On"!

In the end I did not use the cream cheese filling as above but combined whipped cream and lemon curd and slathered it liberally in the middle to fill the hole and what was left went on the top. (Lime curd was a possibility but I found it too sharp.)



Of course, nobody knows the difference and the cake was fine ... actually it was excellent; I would do the same again!


Saturday, 28 March 2015

MAIRI - THE BIG 40


It is Mairi's birthday today!


Tulips à la Karen Dinsen.



Party time tomorrow.














Monday, 23 March 2015

DEREK FABIAN - THE ADVENTURER'S LAST EXPEDITION

One of our sailing and mountaineering friends has died. Derek Fabian, aged 85, lived a long and fulfilled life.


He is one of the men who, had he been born in a previous age, should have been on Shakleton's expeditions.  Certainly he went on plenty of mountaineering expeditions and these were in the days when men were men and women were double-breasted!


He sailed out of Loch Moidart where he kept his boat .. or rather, boats ... as he had various ones over the years.  They were wooden and reflected the man himself - full of character.


Often combining sailing with climbing mountains he sailed the coasts of Scotland, including Orkney and Shetland, Ireland and Sweden. The burgee above is from an anniversary event of the Scottish Mountaineering Club.


A fine wake was held at Cruin Inn on Loch Lomond. There was a good turn out of old ... and I do mean 'old' friends.  Lots of craic ... lots of stories, especially ones which involved Derek! 
 
As is the nature of funerals, we all have our own stories.  When I first came to this country in the late 60's he and his wife were some of the first people I met.  What impressed me immediately was that he had built a North American style house!  As we had taken a notion to do the same ourselves  it was talking to him, and spending time in his house (made of wood, open plan, including open stairwell, with high celings) that put us on the road to building our own house in the early  70's.

While using his large circle of friends for his many ploys (including start of the sailing season's crucial boat launching to catch the Spring Tide) and ... as we all knew, using them "once" (as correctly !! stated in his eulogy) we also know that he was very generous in an unheralded way.  

M-m-m-m ... it has just occurred to me: last Saturday, the day after the eclipse, there was a 'super-tide' meaning that the sun and earth were lined up in such a way that the gravitational pull (of both) is stronger. The high tide was extra high.  Derek would have loved that, i.e. time to get the boat launched!








Friday, 20 March 2015

ECLIPSE - GLASGOW MARCH 2015

In Scotland the forecast cloudy weather was less dense than predicted so it meant that lots of people got a reasonable view of the solar eclipse today. Breaks in the cloud cover or blue skies in some areas gave lots of us a chance to photograph this phenomenon.


Outside our back door (Milngavie) at 9:20 am as there is 20 more minutes to go before the sun is completely covered (well, nearly completely).



The eclipse, in all, lasted 2 hours.  That meant that when I travelled to my home to a music class I attend on a Friday morning I was able to continue to see it. I park in a churchyard and so nothing for it but out with my iPhone to try a get a shot.


With a little help from Photoshop I was able to see the sliver of sun in this blue patch in the photo.  It is basically the above photo with adjustment of the exposure.




I tried using this pinhole technique to see the light shape on the rear piece of card.  It didn't really show up.  However another time a good trick would be to do the same thing but use a colander. It gives multiple images!



The BBC website shows this photo "Rebecca Beevers from Rugby, England, opted to observe the eclipse using the projection method - her pinholes marking out the date 20 March 2015."  It is the pinhole method as above but she dotted them to write this date.  Clever!

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Before the eclipse started I took a shot of shadows in the garden in order to see what would happen when the sun was blocked.  Here is Mairi's clematic gift for Mother's Day awaiting planting. It is placed on the east wall of the little woodshed.


Daffodils - before the eclipse.



 Daffodils - as  eclipse where sun is 3/4 obscured.

*******

I said to Ishbel and Alastair that they should note the shadows on the morning of the eclipse before it started ... and then see what happens when the moon starts to cover, then completely cover the sun.   Response:  "What's a shadow?!!!

*********
John was out today with proper glasses and photography equipment for taking photos.  With the task of looking after 2 wee ones today he was not able to venture further than the backyard.  Harriet, 1 and half years and wee Baby Ellie (2 months) were part of the photography expedition!  Even with is hands full he was able to obtain good shots; here are 2 taken from his Facebook posting.



I hope the photo of Ellie with her solar glasses is going to be kept for her 21st birthday!


One television reporter stated when talking about the eclipse tonight on the news that it was "the greatest show on Earth!"  For once, I agree with this use of the superlative!